Uninsured Motorists Causing Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Accidents
We have worked hard to educate our clients about Massachusetts uninsured motor vehicle accidents and underinsured Massachusetts motor vehicle accidents. Significantly, we have encouraged our Boston car accident clients to consider purchasing insurance beyond the minimal insurance. We regularly represent victims of serious Massachusetts car accidents and they often suffer a second “injury: — insufficient insurance to cover their losses.
A recent Massachusetts motor vehicle collision is an unfortunate example of this occurred. Apparently a Weymouth driver was driving a vehicle on I-93 south without a valid driver’s license. She crashed into two other vehicles, resulting in numerous victims and her own car going up in flames. Assuming the Massachusetts State Trooper was correct regarding her license, the Weymouth vehicle may not have insurance to protect the victims of the collision.
What happens to the victims if the Weymouth driver indeed did not have insurance? The victim, if she had a Massachusetts motor vehicle insurance policy, has uninsurance coverage. The minimal coverage in Massachusetts is $20,000. Thus, if the victim has significant injuries, she would file a claim against her own insurance company, where she has that $20,000 of coverage. What if her injuries are clearly worth more than the $20,000 policy? Unfortunately, if she had a minimal underinsurance polity, that is the maximum claim she could file.
Is there a way around this when the victim has permanent injuries? Yes, buy more than the minimal coverage. In Massachusetts, most motor vehicle insurance companies will sell up to $500,000 in uninsurance and underinsurance coverage. Wherefore, if you were seriously injured in a motor vehicle collision, and the other vehicle had no insurance (or insufficient insurance) you could file a claim and there would be up to $250,000 (or whatever amount of coverage you purchased) in available insurance.
Will my own motor vehicle insurance company simply pay my claim? Of course not. Even when your injuries are clear, insurance companies have lots of tricks to try to reduce the amount they pay out. Insurance companies have extensive experience in denying claims, reducing claims, and fighting against legitimate claims; they use insurance trial lawyers, private investigators, and insurance doctors at their disposal. And they use them in every case.
How does the claim work? The claims process works this way. You give your insurance company official notice that you are filing the claim. You “demand” arbitration to resolve your claim. That is, you cannot file a lawsuit because there is no one to sue and no one at “fault” in your situation. You are simply saying that you want the extent of your injuries to be determined by an impartial arbitrator. If your insurance company refuses to agree to arbitrate, you can file a lawsuit to force the arbitration.
How does Massachusetts motor vehicle arbitration work? You file your claim against your company. Statements are taken which are similar to depositions in civil cases in Massachusetts courts. Documents, including photographs and medical records, are exchanged. Witness lists are exchanged. An arbitration agreement is reached. An arbitrator, or judge, is hired.
Finally, the arbitrator conducts an arbitration, which is similar to a civil trial in Massachusetts courts. The rules of evidence can be reduced. There is no jury, but the arbitration hearing is similar to a trial. Both sides present their witnesses and introduce their evidence. The arbitrator typically will take some time and render a written decision soon after the hearing. The process is generally faster than a jury claim in Massachusetts courts.
We have extensive experience in representing victims of underinsured motor vehicle collisions. We highly recommend that anyone injured in a motor vehicle collision retain a lawyer as the arbitrator process described above can be complicated; even the playing field by hiring an experienced Massachusetts injury lawyer.